and the cars go . . . by william bee

and the cars go . . . has introduced me to my new favorite picture book author and illustrator - William Bee! He has an impeccable design style, as the front and back covers and endpapers of his books show (scroll down for examples.) And, he has an illustration and storytelling style that reminds me of the books that I grew up with in the 1970s when picture books were just a little bit weird and did not talk down to kids the way so many do now. In fact, in this, and the cars go . . . shares much with Christophe Merlin's fantastic lift-the-flap book Under the Hood (scroll down for images from this superb book). Bee, himself, is a pretty interesting fellow and I must confess that I spent more time perusing his blog and reading interviews like the one at Seven Impossible Things than  I did writing this review. As his website tells readers, Bee "was born in London, but now lives int he English countryside. As well as writing children's books, he races a vintage sports car, is an international skier, and when at home tends his lawns and meadow." I'm not sure how many other kid's book authors and/or illustrators there are out there who race cars, vintage or otherwise, although I suspect there are and have been quite a few who tend lawns and meadows... Bee's books seem to be as interesting a mix of ideas and influences as he is and I can't wait to read what he does next.

In addition to the aforementioned qualities that I love in Bee's books, his attention to detail completely wins me over, especially in and the cars go . . . . Having grown up reading Richard Scarry books, my eye is (happily) trained to scour any page, especially one with things that go on it, for Goldbug and other hidden delights. But, before I go on and on about Bee's illustrations, I have to tell you what a treat his text is to read out loud. Having read for story time at the book store for 17 years and even longer to my own three kids, it is an absolute joy to read a story that flows and also allows me to make emphatic, onomatopoetic noises while reading. And, as any parent knows, children acquiring language often learn to make the sound of an object at the same time or occasionally before they learn to say the name of the thing itself. So, not only is and the cars go . . . fun to read, it's educational!

The premise for and the cars go . . . is a simple one: traffic has ground to a halt and the policeman has come to investigate. Each two page spread features one vehicle and previews another. The family on their way to the beach for vacation, a seagull hitchhiker in tow (keep your eye on the seagulls - they have numbered tags on them and they get up to quite a bit of funny business over the course of the book), is stuck behind . . .

Well, you'll just have to read and the cars go . . . yourself to find out!! However, I can tell you that the line of traffic includes vehicles that will definitely grab the attention of little listeners. From a school bus to a street sweeper to an ice cream truck and a dune buggy, there is so much to see and to love in and the cars go . . . that you may not even wonder about what caused the traffic jam in the first place!

More from William Bee . . .

and the train goes . . . , front and back covers.

whatever and end papers, reviewed by Lemony Snicket in the New York Times!

Beware of the Frog, front and back covers and endpaper.

Coming in 2014: Digger Dog, written by William Bee and illustrated by Cecilia Johansson

If you visit William Bee's one-page-entirely-entertaining website, you will see clever things like this:

william bee loves ...
tape measures, bugs bunny, 1978, english moneyumbrellas, princess anne, helicopters, and tiptree jam

If you visit William Bee's blog, you will see  automotive things like this:

William Bee's 1930 Austin Ulster Racing Car that he races

and this:

William Bee's 1968 Daimler V8

and this:

A Lotus he "found whilst tidying the garage."

Source: Review Copy

If you liked and the cars go . . . , check out this great lift-the-flap book published in 2011, Under the Hood!

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